2024 Phillies Player Spotlight: Bryce Harper

With the 2024 MLB season bearing down on us. We here at EOP will spotlight a Phillies player every week until the start of the 2024 season. We will highlight their 2023 season, strengths, weaknesses, and 2024 projections. This week we will highlight first baseman Bryce Harper.      

In November of 2022, Bryce Harper underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his shoulder. The expected return time was July/ August 2023. Amazingly Harper returned in May of 2023. With the season-ending ACL injury to Rhys Hoskins, and the injury to his replacement Derrick Hall the Phillies ran out of options for both first base and DH. Enter Harper.  He learned to play first base in just a few weeks.

Harper did not win the NL MVP this year. It was Ronald Acuña Jr and understandably so. But Harper received 36 points which was stellar, especially when you consider his recovery from Tommy John surgery, his ability to play a solid first base, and his typically elite offensive production.

Harper batted .293 with 21 home runs, 72 RBIs, a .900 OPS, and 146 OPS+ in 546 plate appearances this year. He posted a 1.004 OPS since July 15. He had a 1.149 OPS in his 40 games entering Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series. The Phillies needed more depth at first base following Rhys Hoskins’ season-ending knee injury during Spring Training and Darick Hall’s struggles and time missed due to his ailment.

Harper took reps before debuting in a game at the position. Harper split time with Alec Bohm and Jake Cave before becoming the primary player at the position by the end of the regular season. The 31-year-old will be the Phillies full-time 1B this year.  

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Strengths

At the plate, Harper was his reliable self with a slash line of .293/.401/.499 in 126 games played. He showed why he is considered one of the best all-around players, hitting 21 home runs, 72 RBI, 84 runs, and 134 hits in 457 plate appearances. He had 29 doubles, 80 walks, and 11 stolen bases, demonstrating his well-roundedness as a hitter.

In 13 postseason contests, he had a slash line of .285/.455/.643. The Las Vegas, Nevada native had 12 hits, 14 runs, five home runs and eight RBI. He exhibited his ability to get on base with 13 walks as well.

Harper had a relatively smooth transition defensively from right field to first base for the Phillies. He had one error in 36 starts at the infield position, along with 20 assists and 258 putouts. He did not commit any errors in 13 starts at first during the playoffs. He is certainly capable of being Philadelphia’s starting first baseman, considering his relentless work ethic.

Weakness

Off the field Harper’s “love” for everything Philly has come under attack for being over the top and an example of pandering. This offseason rumors of a desire to seek a contract extension began to circulate that rubbed many Phillies fans the wrong way. Harper has always been a gift from the baseball gods, and his love of Philly antics may only be overmatched by his love of fame and money. That could be his downfall.

2024 Projection

Harper remains the heart and soul of the Phillies, even during his slumps in the batter’s box. He’s willing to do whatever it takes for Philadelphia to succeed. If the organization wins a World Series during his time with the team, he’ll undoubtedly be in the running for World Series MVP.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.

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